I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly queasy making this whole business is. My crackers are beyond ground. They have been reduced to such a fine powder, it's as if they didn't exist in the first place. Let me tell you, I will be wearing my nightguard tonight because there's gonna be plenty of teeth gnashing going on.
Let's start with the positive spin arguments about why drilling now is better than when Bush's own father signed a presidential executive order in 1990 banning coastal oil exploration. In addition to the executive order there is a Congressional moratorium that was first enacted in 1982, and has been renewed every year since. It prohibits oil and gas leasing on most of the outer continental shelf (3 miles to 200 miles offshore).
Here are some popular arguments for opening up previously protected land:
1. $4 a gallon for gas is reason enough to start drilling. Since we won't actually be seeing the oil until about a decade from now, how does that affect today's prices? The Energy Information Administration says that even if both coasts were opened, prices would not begin to drop until 2030. The only real beneficiaries will be the oil companies.
Senator Reid (D-NV) responded to this by saying, "There is not enough oil in America to make that the salvation to our problems. Even if we open the coasts to oil drilling that won’t have a significant impact on prices. The facts are clear."
2. Bush stated that Democratic leader's past opposition to drilling for oil has helped drive gas prices to record levels. This is complete malarkey. The idea that huge deposits of oil and gas on federal land have been closed off by environmentalists and Democrats is untrue.
Senator Reid stated:
Oil companies have already had ample opportunity to increase supply, but they have sat on their hands. They aren't even using more than half of the public lands they already have leased for drilling. And despite the huge tax breaks President Bush and Republican Congresses have given oil and gas companies to invest in refineries, domestic production has actually dropped.
Of the estimated 36 billion barrels of oil on federal lands, mainly in the Rocky Mountain West and Alaska, almost two-thirds are accessible or will be after various land-use and environmental reviews. And of the 89 billion barrels of recoverable oil believed to lie offshore, the federal Mineral Management Service says fourth-fifths is open to industry, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan waters.
So, why is Bush asking for more drilling in protected areas and why is he asking for more land when the oil companies aren't using what's already available and not protected? Because it's a completely empty gesture to make it appear as though he's doing something to help with the energy crisis when, in fact, it won't do much of anything besides line the pockets of his industry supporters.
3. Domestic drilling is the way to end American dependence on foreign oil. This is a national security issue. The pittance of oil that will be drilled out of these areas will barely make a dent in the total amount consumed by Americans. No one knows for certain how much oil is in the moratorium area but the federal Energy Information Administration estimates that roughly 16 billion barrels of oil is covered by the offshore moratorium. Right now there's roughly 95 billion barrels of oil in unprotected areas that aren't being pursued by the oil industry. These additional 16 billion barrels are a drop in the bucket towards our consumption.
To put it another way, America contains less than 3% of the world's oil resources yet we consume almost 25% of the world's oil production. Clearly, we can't drill our way to energy independence.
4. Techniques for drilling offshore are much more safe and environmentally friendly than they were in the past. Well, let's assume that this is true. So what? That doesn't mean we need to drill everything in sight for a few billions barrels of oil given the amount of effort it will take. And, just for fun, let's assume that this is not true. Is it worth the risk to drill out sensitive areas with the potential for huge loss when the gain is so low?
How are you responding to this latest push to open up drilling? If you want to make an impact, urge Congress for conservation, better fuel standards and increased energy efficiency rather than more oil.
Let Congress know how you feel
Similar to what I did with the Farm Bill, I'm starting a campaign to get the message across to Congress. Please let them know how you feel about this issue. Please post the "Stop Drilling Americans" banner* on your blog, linking back to the following letter for readers to copy and paste and send to their local members of congress. Feel free to write your own letter if you like, this is just a starter to get you going.
Dear Sir or Madam,
President Bush's latest move to lift the federal ban on offshore oil drilling is deeply disturbing and comes at a time where little benefit can come of it. The arguments regarding energy independence are deeply flawed and there is little impact that opening up these protected areas will have on current gas prices. It is an empty gesture towards helping alleviate the strain on Americans grappling with increased oil costs.
Given the huge resources currently available to the energy industry, there is no reason to undo the environmental protections that are in place. The risk to these sensitive areas is too great and the gain is too little to warrant drilling in the areas under protection.
Conservation and increased energy efficiency is a far more powerful tool than drilling for easing the demand for oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently projected that new technologies and conservation alone will decrease American demand for oil by 100 billion barrels through 2050.
As my local representative, I urge you to protect our natural resources by upholding the federal laws to ban drilling in these sensitive areas and push towards adopting better policies on conservation and supporting the development of new technologies.
John Q. Public
Your address here
City, State Zip
*Here is the code for the banner to add to your blog:
Update: If you tried using the code earlier and it wasn't working, I fixed it, so it should work for you now.
<a href="http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/06/stop-drilling-american-public.html"> <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/SFtDpt6ln1I/AAAAAAAABZM/j-VqSR7j_yw/s320/banner.jpg" alt="Stop Drilling Americans"/></a>